“Rabies: one health, zero deaths” is the motto under which the World Day of this disease will be commemorated this Wednesday, which in Argentina registers an average of 31 annual cases in dogs and that in humans registered a fatal case last year, after 13 years of zero incidence, a situation that places the country “very close to the validation and certification of the elimination of rabies transmitted by dogs.”
“This year’s theme highlights the need to implement an approach through intersectoral and multidisciplinary cooperation, that requires the contribution, intervention and collaboration of professional teams from the human, animal and environmental health sectors”said the WHO, which proposes to end rabies deaths globally by 2030.
rage is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammalsincluding humans, presenting in the most cases a fatal outcome.
However, it is also a disease preventable through vaccinationboth in animals and in humans.
In the American continent “close to 100 million dogs are vaccinated annually in vaccination campaigns”, a measure that “constitutes the main action for the prevention of rabies in dogs”.
That is why the body recommends “maintain vaccination coverage of 80% of the dog population as a strategy to reduce virus circulation in susceptible hosts and prevent cases of dog-transmitted human rabies.
The situation in Argentina and in the world
In Argentina, the last case of human rabies was reported in the month of April last year: It was a 33-year-old woman who was bitten by a stray cat in the Buenos Aires town of Coronel Suárez, which was infected with the bat variant. the background closer to this last case, it is necessary to look for it in 2008when a case of human rabies had been registered in Jujuy due to canine variant.
Between the years 2013 and 2020, 31 cases of rabies in dogs were registered in the country (canine variant 1 and 2, and bat variant) and 12 cases in cats (bat variant).
The Ministry of Health presented in October last year the National Plan for the Prevention and Elimination of Human Rabies in the framework of which the adviser on Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases of the Pan American Health Organization in Argentina, Tamara Mancero, assured that Argentina “is very close to the validation and certification of the elimination of rabies transmitted by dogs.”
In the world, the disease is responsible for about 60,000 human deaths annually and in the vast majority of human cases, the dog is the source of transmission.
The Americas managed to reduce the incidence of human rabies transmitted by dogs by 98% between 1983 and 2020, going from 300 to two cases per year. However, in recent years, rabies in humans transmitted by wild animals has become more important, with the hematophagous bat being the main transmitter.
Transmission, treatment and prevention
The virus present in the infected animal can be transmitted through the wound caused by a bite, or when the animal licks a part of the body of the recently injured person.
The main symptoms are: fever, restlessness, difficulty swallowing, headache, and a tingling sensation at the site of a bite or lick, days after an attack by an animal infected with the virus.
In dogs and cats, symptoms include behavioral changes, aggressiveness, excessive salivation, inability to swallow or drink, dilated pupils, seizures, paralysis, and death.
Rabid bats also have behavioral changes, often seen in daylight and down.
Regarding preventive measuresthe main one is the vaccination of cats and dogs once a year from 3 months of age and throughout their lives
On the other hand, in case of suffering an animal bite, wash the wound with plenty of soap and water, do not apply alcohol or other disinfectant, and quickly go to the nearest health center to be evaluated by a doctor.
When indicated, human rabies vaccine should be given as soon as possible after exposure.